William Marriott: local hero

In Sheringham (near to West Runton) there is a Marriott Way more or less opposite the NNR railway station: in many respects the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway was William Marriott's railway as he was the Engineer of the line as Digby's Guide makes clear: "The most outstanding figure in the history of the Joint was that of Mr William Marriott MICE MIMechE. There may be a danger in assigning too much mystique to the man, but there is an equal danger in trying to ignore him or belittle his achievements. He was an extremely gifted civil and mechanical engineer; reason enough for the M&GN often to be referred to as Marriott's Tramway'.

William Marriott was born in 1857 at Basle, where his father was Professor of English at the University. He was brought to Bideford in 1868 following the death of his parents and was educated in England and on the Continent. He was a pupil at Ransomes & Rapier Ltd of Ipswich from 1875-79. Returning as a draughtsman in 1880 it appears he was considering seeking his fortune in America but in 1881 heard of a vacancy as assistant Engineer with Wilkinson & Jarvis, then constructing the Lynn & Fakenham  and Yarmouth & North Norfolk lines. For a six-week unpaid trial period he assisted Mr Jarvis with construction at the Yarmouth end and was then offered a permanent post which he took, giving up all idea of going to America. Thus, in 1883, he found himself Engineer, and a year later Locomotive Superintendent, of the Eastern & Midlands Railway. At the age of 26 he was possibly the youngest Engineer of a public railway since the days of Stephenson and Brunel. He carried his dual role throughout the M&GN period and in addition became Traffic Manager from January 1919 until his retirement at the end of 1924. His many achievements include some of the first practical prefabricated concrete items, and design and. construction of several locomotives, but perhaps his most difficult task was the efficient servicing of a railway on a shoestring budget. The M&GN was indeed fortunate to have Marriott as its Engineer as he was regarded with a kindly and indulgent eye from Derby, and what he asked for he usually got, except an increase in salary!

His relationship with the men was at first cordial; to them he was the young Guv'nor'. He was one of the old school; courteous and humane with that practical, unselfconscious Christianity (according to Adrian Vaughan WEA talk on railways in Norfolk Marriott was a member of the Plymouth Brethren) which has become rare and old-fashioned in this century. Although being seen as a rather stern figure later in his tenure of office, he nevertheless remained popular with the majority of the men and officers and if a figurehead for the M&GN was sought then it would undoubtedly be William Marriott.

He retired on 31 December 1924, and died in Sheringham on 17 November 1943.

Book

Forty years of a Norfolk Railway; edited C. Beckett. Sheringham: Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society, 1974.
Originally published in The Norfolk Chronicle in 1921

His concrete signal posts are described by Nigel J.L. Digby in Rly Archive, (11), 77.

Patents originally from (Ronald H. Clark): those with italicized titles have been verified in official sources

21,375 of 27th. September 1906 for Railway rail fishplates and chairs
Not traced on Espacenet (but may be unreliable)
19,596. Braking apparatus for railway wagons and the like, mounted on the permanent way. Applied 4 September 1911, Accepted 18 July 1912.
With William Clower: wagon braking apparatus which applied to wheel rim and clamped its against rail
13,194. Improvements in or relating to reinforcements for reinforced concrete constructions Applied 15 September 1915, Accepted 15 September 1916.
104,224 Improvements in or relating to the metal reinforcements of reinforced concrete constructions. Applied 1 March 1916, Accepted 1 March 1917.
110,570 Improvements in or relating to reinforcements for reinforced concrete constructionsApplied 20 October 1916, Accepted 22 October 1917.
153,991 Improvements in or relating to the metal reinforcements of reinforced concrete constructions. Applied 1 September 1919. Published 25 November 1920.
165,884 Improvements in or relating to reinforced concrete posts, poles and the like. Applied 10 January 1920. Published 11 July 1921.
181,408 Improvements in or relating to moulding or forming concrete blocks and the like. with Arthur William Roy and Albert Ramm. Applied 17 August 1921. Published 22 June 1922.
516,722 Improvements in and relating to shuttering for casting concrete in situ. Applied 6 July 1938. Published 10 January 1940.

Clark also listed:

15,884 of 1915 for Reinforced concrete posts, etc.
135,599 of 1915 for Reinforced concrete posts, etc.

Cocrete works

Digby, Nigel J.L. Marriott reinforced concrete signal posts. Rly Arch. (11) 77-85.
William Marriott of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway manufactured ferro-concrete fence posts, and from 1915 signal posts, at Melton Constable. During WW1 he was asked by the Government to develop building blocks for postwar housing. Suggests that when LNER took over the MGNJR the formers and instructions were taken to Lowestoft and "quietly forgotten" possibly due to patents rights, although before that concrete signal posts had been employed on other railways; Illus.: Melton Constable bracket signal 1922; Melton West advanced starter for Cromer line; Melton bracket signal and concrete telegraph post, portrait of William Marriott with beard (suggests wife forced him to grow one, but North Norfolk winters more likely cause). Marriott's "trade mark" on gate post; concrete casting works at Melton Constable; double arm signal at Eye Green (also concrete sleepers with bullhead rail). extant signal post at Sheringham West down distant (fully exposed to breezes from Spitsbergen) and diagram. Most important item: name sign of West Runton award-winning unstaffed station not mentioned.


William E. Newman

William E. Newman was educated at Pine House Commercial School in Wincanton before being apprenticed to his father William Newman, an engineer and contractor and from 1st. January 1885 to 7th. March 1890 served an apprenticeship on the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, presumably at Highbridge. From being a draughtsman on the SDJR he became one on the Midland & Eastern Railway at Melton Constable. His initial journey from the West took two days and necessitated staying a night in Lynn, his train to Melton in the morning being hauled by one of the converted CMR engines. He was first mechanical draughtsman. For many years he lived in Sheringham and commuted to Melton. Before the erecting shop was completed the lighter work, such as wheel removal, was done in the open.

Newman instituted the first steam heating of railway carriages on Norfolk lines; the design of the nine shunting engines built at Melton, the introduction of the Whitaker exchange tablet apparatus, and providing the first dining car service to Sheringham. He was involved in the design, both mechanical and structural, of the Breydon Viaduct.

On the formation of the Joint in 1893 Newman became Chief Assistant to the Locomotive Superintendent, becoming Resident Mechanical Engineer on Marriott's retirement in 1924. Born on 30. December 1868 he became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1902 and after retiring at Melton in 1932 he went to live in Bristol and died in 1955.

2007-02-08